MTN breaks ‘silence’ on Nigeria

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Africa and Middle East biggest mobile phone operator MTN on Tuesday afternoon broke its silence on the Nigerian proposed R71 billion fine, saying the telco has operated its business in Africa’s biggest economy with “sound corporate governance”.  By Gugu Lourie


In a move to break of its silence in the wake of the surprise more than R70 billion fine, MTN invoked the operators’ history in Africa’s populous country that gave it more than 60 million customers.

The South African-based telco said as a company it owes its “founding and growth to the emerging world”.

“We are conscious of our responsibility to invest in the growth of local economies and development of communities wherever we operate. Nigeria is no different. Since launching more than a decade ago, we have made significant investments in connecting customers to our network. We take these responsibilities and obligations very seriously,” said the company that invested in Nigeria when all operators or investors thought that the country was too risky for any investment.

MTN has been the ‘first’ mobile phone operator to establish operation in tough markets such as Nigeria, Iran, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

“In this time, and as in the other markets where we have a presence, MTN has conducted its business in accordance with established principles related to sound corporate governance,” MTN reiterated on the stock exchange announcement.

When MTN was expanding globally especially in tough markets in Africa and Middle East; the market celebrated the mobile phone operator for doing business in risky markets to build its subscriber numbers.

It has been a known fact in the South African market that some of the markets that MTN has expanded into presented investors with both tremendous potential and terrific risk.

Nigeria was one of those markets and Iran, Syria, plus Afghanistan.

MTN is in discussion in Nigerian authorities.

“MTN wishes to clarify and place on record that the company continues to engage constructively with Nigerian authorities at all levels,” MTN inform shareholders on Tuesday afternoon.

Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator said it also noted the speculation and “false information in the media”.

“MTN particularly cautions against reports purporting that the company has agreed a resolution with the National Communications Communications on the fine. It is false as no resolution has yet been reached. MTN continues to engage the authorities in Nigeria on this matter. To this end, all stakeholders are reminded that MTN will inform them of any material developments in our engagements with Nigerian authorities via the Stock Exchange News Service of the JSE Limited (SENS). Shareholders have also been asked to exercise caution when reacting to information that has not been released by the company.”

The biggest cellular operator in Africa also reiterated its commitment to the African continent.

“As a company which owes its founding and growth to the emerging world, we are conscious of our responsibility to invest in the growth of local economies and development of communities wherever we operate. Nigeria is no different. Since launching more than a decade ago, we have made significant investments in connecting customers to our network. We take these responsibilities and obligations very seriously.

“In conducting our business, MTN is always mindful that our growth has not only been due to the success of our commercial propositions. We therefore remain committed to maintaining solid partnerships with regulators, governments, communities and our markets, including in Nigeria, to build a sustainable industry that contributes to the growth of local economies.

MTN also reminded investors to continue to exercise caution when dealing in its securities until a further announcement is made.

MTN’s reputation has been built carefully for years and hasn’t come cheap. For it to be destroyed by its Nigerian ‘failure’ to comply with SIM card registration will be tantamount to be throwing away the family (South Africa) jewel into a gutter.

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